The tubular, five-petal blossoms of the mandevilla vine are looking spectacular right now. No wonder in the language of flowers mandevilla’s said to mean: “You are too bold.” Less fairly, it’s also supposed to symbolize thoughtlessness. The flowers come in white (m laxa), pink (m splendens) or rose (m sanderi rose). Otherwise known as rocktrumpet, mandevilla has dark, glossy green leaves and is perfect for summer garlands and wreaths. It was named after Henry Mandeville (1773-1861), a British diplomat and gardener.
Strictly speaking the canna lily (canna x generalis) is not a lily at all since it grows from a rhizome rather than a bulb. Its iris-like flowers come in bright, tropical colours. The Shenandoah variety has particularly stunning deep pink flowers with olive green leaves touched with bronze.
Nothing is more delicious that our own Bermuda grown sweet corn (zea mays). So it’s good to see fields of corn all over the island ready for harvesting. While eating it, we might remember in the early years of our settlement every person over 16 years was obligated to sow two acres of corn, harvest it and store it securely in storehouses. Failure to do so could mean being tried by the Grand Jury. In 1658, one bushel or 56 pounds of corn cost one shilling and sixpence “in time of scarcity as well as plenty.”
Amaranthus (amaranthus caudatus)
Also known as love-lies-bleeding flower and foxtail amaranthor, amaranthusis native to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and grows well in Bermuda’s warm climate, needing little water. Their tassels of magenta flowers resemble chenille pipe cleaners. They are said to symbolize desertion, hopelessness but are also supposed to offer magical protection.
Plant seeds 4 inches apart and cover with just a little soil in full sun. After they germinate (7-14 days) thin the seedlings 10-18 inches apart. Do not over water since the plant is subject to root rot.
Annual vinca (catharanthus roseus)
Otherwise known as Madagascar or rosy periwinkle, this annual plant tolerates the hotter, more humid months and tolerates the hot sun when impatients starts to wilt unless in shade. Available with blooms in shades of pink, rose, and mauve, with some varieties including a contrasting “eye”. Plant seedlings in full sun in well-drained soil. Do not overwater. Dead heading is unnecessary since periwinkles bloom all season.